Bougainvillea Care: How to Grow Bougainvillea in Pots

Due to the good drainage conditions in pots, bougainvillea grows well and can flower for many years with proper care.

Use a potting mix that is 80 percent compost and 20 percent grit to guarantee proper drainage when planting bougainvillea in clay, terracotta, or ceramic pots that are at least 12 inches across. Put the bougainvillea in direct sunlight and give the pot a good soak once a week in the spring and summer and every two to three weeks in the winter.

Conditions:Maintaining Potted Bougainvillea:
pot sizeBougainvillea should be planted in pots that are at least 12 inches wide.
Pot Composition:Pots made of clay, terracotta, or ceramic are preferable than those made of plastic or metal.
Container Mix:For the best soil conditions, use 80% compost or potting soil with 20% grit or perlite.
Watering:Water with a decent soak is often used once every two or three weeks in the fall and winter and once a week in the spring and summer.
Sunlight:Full sun is excellent for flowers (at least 6 hours of sun per day).
Fertilizer:For optimal results, use an all-purpose feed once a month beginning in the spring and continuing through the middle of July.
Winter CareWhen the nighttime temperature falls below 50°F (10°C), bring potted bougainvillea indoors and set it in a sunny window in a cold location.
Pruning:All year long, remove fading flowers by deadheading. Early in the spring, prune severely to encourage new growth.
Flowering:In hot climates with moderate Winters, flowers bloom all year long. In cooler climes, flowers bloom in the Spring and Summer.

Continue reading to discover how to effectively cultivate bougainvillea in both summer and winter in various regions and how to encourage more blossoms all year long.

Best Pots and Containers for Bougainvillea

A clay, terracotta, or unglazed ceramic pot that spans about 12 inches across and the same depth works well as a pot or container for bougainvillea. In order to allow extra water to drain away, the pot must have drainage holes in the base.

The ideal pots for bougainvillea are made of clay, terracotta, or ceramic because they retain their coolness better in the full sun than plastic or metal pots and because their porous construction promotes equal soil drying after rain or irrigation.

Bougainvillea has adapted to drought conditions, therefore it needs the soil to dry out between watering sessions.

Because they are impermeable and conduct more heat, plastic pots can occasionally prevent the soil from drying uniformly, which can lead to extra heat stress on the bougainvillea roots when they are in direct sunlight.

Choose a pot with a diameter of around 12 inches and a depth that is equal to its size. This will provide adequate space for the soil to hold nutrients and provide the roots the room they need to expand and absorb the necessary moisture.

In a pot that is proportionate to the size of the plant and somewhat confines the roots, which produces stress and encourages flowering, bougainvilleas flower more effectively (bougainvillea requires some adversity to stimulate flowering).

If the pot is too big, the bougainvillea will focus its energy on developing roots rather than producing as many flowers.

It is ideal to place your bougainvillea pot on feet to elevate it an inch off the ground if you live in an area with high humidity or rainfall. Additionally, choose a pot with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape.

This lessens the chance of root rot by preventing water from pooling underneath the container and allowing more air to dry out the soil there.

Planting Bougainvilleas in Pots

Bougainvillea should be planted in pots with a base of 1 inch gravel to encourage optimum drainage. The optimum potting mix for bougainvillea is one that has about 80% multipurpose compost and 20% horticultural grit. With the help of this potting mixture, bougainvillea can maintain the ideal conditions for drainage and moisture retention.

In its native South America, bougainvillea thrives in soil that drains well. Bougainvilleas do not tolerate consistently damp soil since it fosters the growth of root rot and fungus.

An aerated, porous soil structure that allows surplus water to drain away from the roots is provided by a gritty soil mixture, which successfully mimics the soil conditions of the bougainvillea’s natural soil.

If you simply put them into potting soil or compost without adding any gravel, sand, or perlite, the potting media may cause your bougainvillea to hold too much water.

Avoid packing the soil too tightly when planting your bougainvillea because doing so forces air out of the potting medium and reduces its porosity, which might cause the soil to hold too much moisture for a plant that prefers dyers soil.

After transplanting or planting, always give your bougainvillea a good soak to help reduce transplant shock.

Because bougainvillea prefers the soil to dry out a little between watering sessions, gritty soil mixes with good drainage are especially important in locations with more humidity or rainfall.

To achieve the ideal moisture balance for bougainvilleas to thrive and produce flowers, the appropriate soil mix for bougainvilleas and the proper watering schedule are essential.

Watering Bougainvillea in Pots

In order to make sure moisture reaches the roots, water the bougainvillea thoroughly enough that extra water drips from the pot’s base. Before watering again, let the soil dry out. To maintain the ideal balance of moisture, potted bougainvillea is often watered once per week in the spring and summer and every two to three weeks in the fall and winter.

Conditions:Bougainvillea Watering Schedule:
Summer and Springonce every seven days, water. After a shower, if the soil is still wet, wait to water until the soil feels dry.
Autumn and Wintereach two to three weeks, water. Before watering, make sure the soil is slightly dry.

In their natural habitat, bougainvillea flourish in soils that are grittier and dryer, and they may grow in an environment where torrential rainstorms are frequently followed by hot, dry temperatures.

Therefore, it’s crucial to repeat this cycle of watering by giving your potted bougainvillea a very good drink then letting the potting soil dry up before watering again in order to keep it healthy and free of fungal disease.

The most frequent cause of bougainvillea death is overwatering, which results in continuously wet soil.

The likelihood of fungal illness and root rot increases if the soil is wet and does not dry out properly.

How frequently you should water in the spring and summer:

In the spring and summer, bougainvillea normally need a good soak once every seven days, provided that it is in the correct container (clay, terracotta, or ceramic) and is a good size.

If there has been a lot of rain, though, wait until the soil is dried before watering.

If you are unclear whether to water your bougainvillea, dig a finger-deep hole in the potting soil and check the moisture content. In order to determine whether the soil is damp or not, it can also be helpful to feel the soil through the drainage holes at the base of the pot.

When the soil seems as though it is just beginning to dry out, which can take a few days if the soil feels damp, is the ideal time to water.

It should be remembered that overwatering can inhibit flowering because bougainvillea frequently needs some drought stress to encourage the growth of blooms (more on this further down).

Watering Bougainvillea in the Fall and Winter:

In the Fall and Winter, Bougainvillea uses much less water as it enters a dormant stage in response to the shorter daylight hours and colder weather. Water potted bougainvillea with a vigorous soak once every two to three weeks during the winter.

You don’t need to water your bougainvilleas if the potting soil is wet from rain because it likes dryer soil.

Remember that bougainvillea is not cold-hardy and needs to be taken inside before it gets below 50°F (10°C). Despite this, it still needs to be watered once every two to three weeks with a good soak.

(To learn more about watering and to avoid frequent mistakes, read my post on how to water bougainvillea in pots.)

Place Potted Bougainvillea in Full Sun

Although bougainvillea may grow with less light, this leads to more foliage and fewer blooms.

In its original South American climate, bougainvillea has evolved to grow in full sunlight, which also aids in increasing evaporation after rainfall and enables the soil to dry up effectively, contributing to the dryer soil conditions in which bougainvillea thrives.

How to Fertilize Bougainvillea

When growing bougainvillea, a soil’s ability to drain properly is more crucial than its level of fertility. Bougainvillea will produce more leaves rather than flowers if the soil contains an excessive amount of nitrogen. Potted bougainvilleas that have used up all of the nutrients can benefit from fertilizer.

According to my observations, bougainvillea flower well in the first year after being potted since they can get all the nutrients they need from the fresh potting soil or compost.

The number of flowers and the quality of the foliage may decline after a few years in the same pot since the bougainvillea’s roots have effectively consumed all of the nutrients in the container. The growth of flowers, leaves, and vines can now be encouraged and supported by fertilizing your potted bougainvillea.

After the threat of cold weather and frost has gone, using a half-strength liquid all-purpose fertilizer in the spring and feeding once a week until the middle of July has given me the best results.

In the summer, it’s vital to cease feeding your plants since fertilizer can encourage softer, luxuriant growth that is more vulnerable to damage from cold snaps.

Additionally, too much fertilizer results in mushy growth that is far more likely to be harmed by aphids.

In order to make sure the potted bougainvillea in this picture has all the nutrients it needs for flowering and growth, miracle-gro fertilizer was administered to it once per week, but only at half strength (as it has been in a pot for a while).

I should point out that the bougainvillea bloomed profusely for the first two to three years without fertilizer because it was grown in healthy compost, in a pot with somewhat constrained roots (which encourages flowering), and in direct sunlight.

How to Increase Bougainvillea Blooms

The secret to boosting flowering is to place bougainvillea in broad sunlight, in a pot that somewhat restricts the roots, and without overwatering. When watered infrequently and with roots that are slightly pot-bound, bougainvillea blooms at their finest. Light stress applied to your bougainvillea encourages blossoming.

Conditions:Enhancing Bougainvillea Flowerings:
more arid soilThe finest blooms on bougainvilleas occur during drought stress. Before watering again, let the soil dry out.
High Sun Intensity:Place the pots of bougainvillea where they will receive morning and afternoon sun.
Warm Conditions:In order to flower more, bougainvillea needs temperatures at night of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pots’ sizes:The size of the pot should be appropriate for the plant, if not slightly limiting the roots.
shorter day lengths than nighttime:Short-day plants like bougainvillea prefer at least 12 continuous hours of darkness in order to flower.
wilted flowersRegularly trimming or pinching off old blooms encourages the growth of new flowers.
Pruning:Early in the spring, prune bougainvillea to encourage new growth that will sustain the flowers.

Because being under some stress gives the plant an incentive to prioritize reproduction, which is done of course by showing flowers for pollinators, “stress” to the bougainvillea encourages flowering.

The bougainvillea tends to put its energy toward growing and developing its root system, vine, and foliage rather than prioritizing the growth of its bracts and flowers if the plant has plenty of moisture, a large pot for the roots to grow in, and plenty of nutrients in the form of fertilizers.

(Bracts are specialized leaves that sometimes resemble flowers.)

Additionally, because Bougainvillea is a short-day plant, it blooms best when the days are shorter than the nights (so less then 12 hours of light).

Most bougainvillea cultivars do not flower to the same amount if the darkness is broken throughout the night (consider turning on outdoor lights or street lights).

Find a position where your bougainvillea won’t be illuminated by artificial light during its 12 hours of darkness, or figure out a technique to shade it at night to encourage flowering.

Also keep in mind that bougainvillea flowers on new growth, so it reacts nicely to early-spring trimming since it promotes the new growth that shows the flowers and bracts.

(Read why my bougainvillea isn’t blooming in my article. to discover the cause of your bougainvillea’s failure to bloom and the remedy).

How to Care for Bougainvillea in Winter

If the nighttime temperature in your region drops below 50°F (10°C), you should bring your bougainvillea indoors during the winter. Water bougainvillea once every two to three weeks, but make sure to give it a full soak every time.

If the weather is warm enough, bougainvillea can bloom all year long; but, in cooler regions, they frequently only develop and bloom considerably in the spring and summer.

When bougainvillea is moved indoors for the winter, it frequently loses its leaves from the cold or from shock at the sudden change in weather.

While this is concerning, the leaves frequently regenerate once the plant has adjusted to its new environment and when the weather warms up in the spring.

Why is my bougainvillea losing leaves? (Read my article. regarding how to store it).

Place your bougainvillea in direct sunlight at all times, even in the winter, to avoid the plant from losing leaves. Also, make sure the area is free of draughts from air conditioners or other sources of heat. Your bougainvillea will flourish more if the temperature is more consistent.

Since young growth is vulnerable to damage from the cold in the winter, do not feed bougainvillea. In cooler locations with lower light intensities and fewer daylight hours, bougainvillea goes into hibernation throughout the winter.

Watering your bougainvillea simply once every two to three weeks throughout the winter is advised because this considerably reduces the demand for water.

Your bougainvillea is unlikely to need much watering throughout the Winter months if you can leave the pots outside and live in an area with moderate Winters. This is because it can frequently get enough moisture from rainfall.

(Read why my bougainvillea is dying in my essay. if you have any issues).

Pruning and Training Potted Bougainvillea

Pruning and Training Potted Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea may be trained by simply staking it in the ground with a bamboo cane and connecting the vine to the stake with string or cable ties.

However, with a bamboo cane, your bougainvillea pot can be completely transportable for when you need to bring it indoors during the winter. You can of course train bougainvilleas to fence or trellis according on your conditions.

As long as you keep them clipped to a compact size, many bougainvillea varieties can sustain themselves without canes or trellises, making them perfect for containers.

To keep your potted bougainvillea compact and encourage the development of fresh flowers, trim the new growth back significantly with a good pair of pruners in the early spring.

Here is a YouTube clip showing how to prune your potted bougainvillea in detail:

Key Takeaways:

  • The finest containers for bougainvillea are 12 inch clay or terracotta pots with a granular potting mixture of 80% compost and 20% grit. In the spring and summer, water should be consumed once a week, and in the fall and winter, every two to three weeks. When nighttime temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C), bring bougainvillea pots inside.
  • The ideal pots to use for planting bougainvillea are made of clay, terracotta, or ceramic. Clay and terracotta pots help plants survive heat stress in the summer because they allow soil to dry uniformly after watering and do not heat up as quickly in the sun as metal or plastic pots do.
  • Completely watering potted bougainvillea so that any extra water drips from the pot’s base. In order to stimulate active development, water once per week in the spring and summer and once every two to three weeks in the winter. Before rehydrating the soil, always let it dry out first.
  • In order to establish the best drainage conditions and an aerated potting medium for bougainvilleas, plant them in a potting mix that is 80% compost or potting soil and 20% grit or perlite. This will prevent root rot.
  • To encourage flowering, place your bougainvillea pot in a location with direct sunlight. The bougainvillea will produce more foliage and fewer blooms if it receives too much shade. In order to prevent it from losing as many leaves and to protect it from the cold, place potted bougainvillea in a sunny window throughout the winter.
  • From the beginning of spring through mid-July, feed bougainvillea plants in pots with a liquid fertilizer at half strength to encourage growth and flower displays.
  • When the nighttime temperature falls below 50°F (10°C), bougainvillea should be taken indoors because they are not cold-hardy in the winter. To keep it from dropping leaves in the winter, place bougainvillea pots in a sunny window. Water them once every two to three weeks, and wait to fertilize them until the next spring.
  • At the beginning of spring, hard prune bougainvillea to foster new growth, which encourages more blossoms, including bougainvillea flowers on new growth. To encourage the growth of more flowers, prune back any faded blossoms as they appear during the year.
  • Place the bougainvillea in full sun and let the soil dry out after watering to promote flowering. Bougainvillea should be grown in containers that somewhat restrict the roots and protect it from nighttime light. Short-day plants like bougainvillea need more hours of darkness than light to flourish at their optimum.


Do bougainvillea grow better in pots or ground?

Due to the good drainage conditions in pots, bougainvillea grows well and can flower for many years with proper care. Use a potting mix that is 80 percent compost and 20 percent grit to guarantee proper drainage when planting bougainvillea in clay, terracotta, or ceramic pots that are at least 12 inches across.

How do I know if my bougainvillea needs water?

Until it becomes established, water the bougainvillea frequently enough to keep the soil moist. Only water when it has been established and the top inch of soil is dry. If the soil is a little bit on the dry side, bougainvillea blooms more. Bougainvillea loves irregular deep waterings versus frequent shallow waterings, so use this pro tip.

Where does bougainvillea grow best?

The Central and South American native plant, bougainvillea, is widely grown in South Florida, Arizona, South Texas, and Southern California. Established vines may tolerate a slight frost, but if it gets below 25 degrees where you live, you’ll need to bring them inside for the winter.

How often should you water a potted bougainvillea?

It prefers infrequent deep waterings to nice, thorough waterings every three to four weeks. A bougainvillea that receives too much water may develop fungal infections and root rot. When kept dry, bougainvillea flowers more effectively. You’ll get more green growth and fewer blossoms if you use too much water.